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Packers to hold line on ticket prices

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Associated Press
February 26, 2009

In a reflection of the state of the economy and its impact on the sports and entertainment dollar, the Green Bay Packers announced that they would not raise ticket prices next season.


In recent years, the Packers, after good seasons and bad, had raised ticket prices every other year. This coming season would normally have been a season the team would raise prices.


Instead, the face value of tickets in the seating bowl will stay at $72, $64 and $59. That means that the prices of those seats haven’t changed in three seasons.


“We were in a pattern where this would be a year we would increase prices,” Mark Murphy, the team’s president and CEO, said in an interview. “But looking at the current economic situation, it’s really unprecedented what our fans are going through. We studied it pretty hard. For us, it’s an important issue. But we felt the best thing to do was to hold ticket prices. We are sensitive to our fans who lost jobs, who have been affected in terms of their 401(k)s, their savings.”


Besides national TV revenue, the Packers, as with other professional sports franchises, depend heavily on ticket revenue for team operations. The Packers are more fortunate than many NFL franchises in that demand for tickets year after year remains strong.


“We could have increased ticket prices,” Murphy said. “We would have sold out. Some NFL teams are in a different situation. But we couldn’t afford at this time to be arrogant. We needed to be sensitive to what people are going through.”


As a result, the Packers will look to cut costs and increase revenue in other areas. Last October, the team announced it would put on hold a $25 million atrium renovation project.


A Packers team official said that the average price of a Packers ticket will be approximately $64. That is expected to place the Packers in the lower third of average ticket prices in the National Football League. Normally, the team likes to fall in the middle third of NFL franchises.


The freeze in ticket prices affects an estimated 60,000 to 62,000 seats at Lambeau Field. Price increases for holders of club seats and suites are already built in, team officials said.


Fans who hold season-ticket packages will get their invoices in mid-March. Team officials say they don’t know yet if any season-ticket holders will be forced to give up their packages for economic reasons. If some fans do, the Packers are fortunate in that tens of thousands of fans are on the waiting list.


Murphy said it was his understanding that at least half of the teams in the NFL had decided not to raise prices. In some markets, prices have been lowered.


Murphy said the Packers’ fiscal year does not end until March 31, so it’s hard to say what impact the recession is having on the Packers’ bottom line. But there is some softness on the retail end, he said.


“For us, the biggest softening was in the Pro Shop,” he said. “A good portion of that was attributable to the economy. It’s discretionary money, and people are struggling and they are cutting back. In the Pro Shop, we noticed the same number of visits, but people were spending less.”


In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008, the Packers reported that profit from operations totaled $21.4 million, down $12.8 million from the previous fiscal year. Total franchise revenue was $241 million, up from $218 million, a 10.5% increase.



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